Paul Gordon Collier- Mark Halperin’s interview of Ted Cruz (see highlight video embedded below) reveals something about both men. For Halperin, under any other context where a white journalist would ask anyone who was not a conservative they types of questions he asked Cruz, the backlash and charges of racist would be immediate and devastating. But we all understand that ‘minorities’ who don’t hold the accepted state party view are not really authentic minorities. So, in that context, Halperin is just doing a good job outing the faux minority, even if he has to ask questions that are, on the face of them, stereotypical, racist.
My purpose for writing today is not to call out Halperin. Many on the right are doing just that. My purpose is to call out Ted Cruz. No, he did not demonstrate any social foible, such as Halperin did. What he did demonstrate is that he might be on his way to answering to the voices in the echo chamber that are the professional political consultant.
Professional political consultants on the right tend to want to play it safe They operate on the principle of not making a mistake that makes you look foolish. In football, this tactic is called the Prevent Defense. Don’t make any mistakes that give your opponent an easy, quick touchdown.
Halperin asked some pretty demeaning questions. It was clear Halperin was doing the work of the state party. Asking Cruz what kind of Cuban food he liked is really saying, “You don’t deserve the cover of minority status and I will prove to the minorities watching that you’re really just a white man hiding under that protection.”
The interview would have went like this if the person being questioned was Paul Cruz (me, with a last name change, because I’m cool like that), instead of Ted Cruz:
Halperin: Got a favorite food, Cuban dish?
Paul Cruz: Are you questioning the fact that my Father was born Cuban, which makes me at least half Cuban, which more than qualifies me to list myself as Cuban-American and/or Hispanic? What if both my parents were Cubans and I grew up eating only cheeseburgers and fried chicken. Is my ethnicity determined by my cultural choices? Are you an actual racist or do you simply play one when the state party commands you to do so?
That may very well have been the end of the interview. The headlines on the right would read “Cruz Smacks Down Racist Halperin.” The headlines on the left would be, “White Cuban Cruz avoids questions about his Cuban Authenticity.”
The people who embrace racism, when it’s convenient to their narrative, would be put into a place where they would have to perpetuate their racism and make it even more obvious to the casual viewer the game they were playing. As it is, the left has been legitimized that it is ok to ask such incendiary questions under the guise of journalism.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz comes across as being weak. Methinks the echo chamber of the professional political consultant is getting in Ted’s head. This is bad for Ted, whose strength has been his ability to handle the latest state party operative in the state party news room.
We can only hope Ted wakes up before it’s too late and turns off the echo chamber of the professional political consultant. Make mistakes if you must. Now is not the time to play ‘prevent defense’ as so many on the right often choose to play.